slate river ramblings . . . .

Buckingham Notables: The Clay Family

Pleasant Grove, Courtesy Historic Buckingham.

In 1936, when Elizabeth McCraw surveyed Pleasant Grove for the Virginia Historical Inventory, she included a fairly lengthy comment concerning the property’s “historical significance.” According to Mrs. McCraw:

This house was built by Mr. Junius Clay, a brother to Oden Clay who was the first president of what is now the Norfolk and Western Railroad. It is generally supposed that the house was built in 1824 and that the Clays lived there about that time. This date is on the gutter, but the present owner says she often heard her grandparents say that the gutters were put on the house some years after it was built. The house may have been built prior to 1824.

The place was visited a number of times by both Union and Confederate Soldiers during the War Between the States. No damage was done to the house, but provisions were taken, and on one occasion simply destroyed. The family silver was also taken.

Mrs. McCraw’s informant was Mrs. Julia Smith Forbes of Farmville, Virginia. In 1936, Mrs. Forbes was the owner and represented the third generation of the Smith family at Pleasant Grove. Mrs. McCraw also gathered information from Mr. Emmett Gillespie of Enonville, a relative of the Clays.

In 1880, a Junius Clay (age 81) and his wife, Elizabeth (age 79) were living in the Francisco District in Buckingham County.  Is he the Junius A. Clay who married Elizabeth Cobbs in Bedford County, Virginia on December 12, 1820 and the builder of Pleasant Grove?

Can a Slate River Ramblings’ reader add more about the Clay family?  Please comment below.

For more about the dwelling house at Pleasant Grove, click here: Buckingham Houses: Pleasant Grove